Since arriving in Alicante we have taken a break from sightseeing for a few weeks. We had a lovely trip to Granada and the Alhambra this week, which I will write about in a separate post.Adjusting to life in Spain took a little longer than we had thought. Most people here don’t speak English, which is an opportunity for a lot of nonverbal interaction that for the most part is quite friendly. As usual in a new place we take some time in the initial few days to find the grocery stores, post office, cafes, restaurants etc that we need to feel somewhat oriented, as well as finding good places to walk. Alicante has a beautiful promenade area along the beach as well as a beautiful walk by the Marina lined with palm trees. The beach area has a couple of cafes that look onto the beach, and is very pretty to walk along.
We’ve been to the beach or promenade almost every day. I started going for brisk walk-jogs in the mornings pretty soon after we arrived, but unfortunately attracted the attentions of an elderly gentleman who I kept bumping into, and reluctantly decided to adjust my habit, as I was being overly vigilant and it was spoiling the experience.
We are living in a small apartment complex on the main street, Rambla Nunez Mendez. December has been a month of various fiestas in Spain, which means parades down the Rambla, which we have a front row seat for. Last night there was an annual fun run for charity, which started at 10pm at night. It started and ended just down the street from us. A lot of the runners were dressed up in festive gear. We are acclimatizing to nightlife in Spain. After showing up for dinner at 8 or 8:30 the first few nights we realized that people eat much later here, and as a consequence are out very late at night. So, it is not unusual for us to hear serious carousing into the wee hours up until about 6 or 7 in the morning. Sam says that it is like living in a canyon, the sound just bounces off the walls. We didn’t believe the reviews of the place we are staying that said it is too noisy. Now we do. However, we have a sweet little patio, with a view of the cathedral (if you stand up!) and also the view from our apartment has a “partial sea view” (that is if you stick your head out of the window!).
However, as with everything, we have got used to this apartment and the owners of the building are really nice, as well as their assistant. The owners don’t speak English, but I have been communicating with them in German, as the husband spent some time stationed there at one point in his life.
Alicante is definitely a tourist destination, but has managed to avoid tackiness for the most part. As with most everywhere there are large retail centers on the outskirts, one of which (called Decathlon) we visited by bus to buy me a swim suit. It was a vast store, with huge sections for every kind of leisure activity and sport. There was a particularly interesting section with all kinds of climbing equipment. In the same complex there was a Burger King, which seems to pop up a lot in Europe. The whole area bore a definite resemblance to the sort of mid-sized complex one might get on Howard Street in Evanston/Chicago where Target and Best Buy are.
A slightly more interesting cultural experience was visiting the mercado (indoor marketplace) just a few minutes’ walk from our apartment. Upstairs it is filled with a myriad of stalls selling baked goods, meats and cheese, downstairs there is the section that sells fish and shellfish and vegetables. It was quite challenging ordering food, but I tried to not let my scant Spanish deter me!
We spent this afternoon of Christmas Eve by the beach, first at the café, and then sitting on the sand reading and taking in the lovely scene. It was about 64 F and sunny. Tomorrow is supposed to be just as nice, so we are hoping to have a Christmas Day swim!
We must look fairly harmless because this afternoon we were approached by two sets of beach lovers. One was a man and a woman in wet suits who were looking for somewhere to leave their bags/car keys while they swam about a kilometer up and down the beach. They are local and were practicing for a yearly race that is happening the day after Christmas. They said that 300 swimmers usually participate and that the hot chocolate served up for them and the spectators is particularly good. We said we would give it a try. A couple of friends, young Americans, asked us to take their photos in the sea, and were really friendly. They were staying at the youth hostel. One was in medical school in Poland, and the other was a recent graduate who had traveled from the US to see his friend and this corner of Europe. Sam gave the med student some encouragement about his studies.
There was just a knock on the door, and our landlady showed up with grapes, whole walnuts and Spanish champagne!
Our plans for tomorrow are two swim, Skype with family and then go out for an afternoon Christmas Dinner at a local traditional Spanish restaurant.
Christmas Day update!
Just wanted to add that the proof of the swimming is in the Mediterraneo!
Had a very Spanish Christmas lunch…at La Taberna Iberica, a rustic restaurant in the old town of Alicante.